Greetings, and Welcome to The Small Shoppe

After the example of my Chestertonian mentor, Dr. R. Kenton Craven, I here offer my ponderings and musings for your edification and/or education.

You are welcome to read what is written here, and encouraged to do so. Appropriate comments may well be posted.

Michael Francis James Lee
The Not-so-Small Shoppe-Keeper

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself..."

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall ove your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40

I am not all together certain why this passage, and a particular insight that accompanies it have visited my consciousness so insistently over the past several days. Likely it is owing to the fact that I am not particularly loving of my neighbor; or at least quite selectively exclusive in my determination of exactly "who is my neighbor."

I will attempt to describe the insight that came rushing upon me like a Pentecost wind as I thought of this passage from Sacred Scripture. Throughout my life, I always have taken these verses to mean that I should love God, and then sort of "measure" how I love myself, and apply that measure of love to others around me. The disturbing insight of which I have become aware of late is, I think, more than simply a nuance. In the command to love my neighbor as myself, I now understand that I am to consider that my neighbor "is" myself. In so doing, I will of course love my neighbor. This command fights fiercely against my narcissism; for if I consider for even a moment that my neighbor is myself, then all of the great concern and interest which I normally reserve for my own needs and wants is now focused on someone else. I must love my neighbor exactly as though my neighbor were, in fact, me.

The very thought of such a thing frightens me and, I must say -- in the interest of full disclosure--makes me feel rather ill. First off, there are more than several people for whom I have no desire at all to have such consideration. Secondly, that fact that there are indeed people for whom I do not desire to have this sort of love makes me feel guilty and sinful; not a spiritual sensation of which I am at all fond.

Perhaps I have, at long last stumbled upon an Examination of Conscience in capsule form. I may not need to fumble for a pamphlet, or look for a marked page in the back of my missal again. These few verses from the Gospel shed much light upon the state of my soul; upon the state of my relationship with God and those with my fellow men. As I reflect, I cannot presently remember a sin which I have in the past committed that does not relate directly to these two commandments: Love God, and love thy neighbor as thyself.

"O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee..."

1 comment:

  1. The simplest form of Examen, in my view is,'what have I desired today?' That really gets to the heart of the matter, and spares one becoming obsessive about detail while ignoring the true sins.